My gluten free dining experience in Dubai

 

On the 19th November we flew with Emirates to Dubai for a few days of sunshine and to go and watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The final race of the season.

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Opposite the pit lane and Red Bull garage

 

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We had been to Dubai earlier in the year so I was confident that I would be able to eat well with my selection of food intolerances. I had done quite a lot of  research on Twitter and Google and found a couple of places that I really wanted to eat at The Cycle Bistro which is Paleo and gluten free and Omnia Gourmet which offered a choice of gluten free desserts.

This time we stayed on The Palm Jumeirah at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

Zabeel Saray

Zabeel Saray

This worked out cheaper than staying at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam where we have stayed in the past ( also great for gluten free ). My husband emailed the Food and Beverage manager before we arrived to make him aware of my dietary needs. This was clearly written on the booking form of every restaurant that we booked. I also took my business cards which I handed to ever chef. This listed all my intolerances clearly.

Our view

Our view

Zabeel Saray is a gorgeous palace style hotel on The Jumeirah Palm with a selection of different styles of restaurants on site and many more on The Palm. Breakfasts are buffet style, no good for coeliacs due to the threat of cross contamination but at Jumeirah hotel group this isn’t a problem. The Hotels are happy to send out a Chef to speak to you and make your breakfast separately. Most days I ordered a omelette with either cheese or veggies with pork bacon.

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Boiled eggs are available from the buffet in their shells and fried eggs can be made by the Chef. I did have sliced fresh fruit from the buffet as it was on a stand alone table away from contamination.

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I didn’t trust the cheese table as the utensils were open to be used for other things. Cheese was available from the Chef. Don’t be afraid to ask as you are paying the same price as the other guests! Gluten free bread was available on request, I don’t eat this as I’m yeast intolerant so I cannot comment on its quality.

Lunches are available at most of the restaurants, once again I asked to speak to a Chef who would go over in person choices etc. There was a mistake once with a fruit vinegar dressing but I spotted it straight away and it was quickly sorted.

Evening meals were sensational the newly opened Rib Room was perfect for gluten free eating. Chef Anjan Kumar really went the extra mile at every meal. We visited here 3 times because we were looked after so well. I can recommend the grass fed steak. The Chef was happy to make me duck fat gluten free chips and on our last visit sent out some complimentary ones. The first evening we were there it was a special press night, as The Rib Room had only been open for a week.

 

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We also visited the Turkish restaurant, the Lebanese restaurant in the hotel and the Sultans lounge. There wasn’t a huge choice for me as I am intolerant to yeast, onion and garlic. But what I had was delicious including grilled sea bass, hullomi with grilled aubergine or cucumber and tomato , hummus and whole grilled prawns. Grilled chicken salad and lobster salad. Once again the Chef came out to go through the menu and help me decided what to choose.

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The Cycle Bistro was somewhere I was very excited to visit. I had started to follow them on Twitter and Facebook and had been e-mailing the Chef. It is situated in Motor City an area of Dubai quite a drive from our hotel on The Palm. But worth the visit!

The Cycle bistro

The Cycle bistro

We went three times in a week. The paleo breakfasts were delicious and I felt very relaxed eating there.

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The staff were very friendly and we were made very welcome.

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My breakfasts arrived with salad and avocado . Yummy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or bacon and my husband chose the steak and eggs which looked incredible. Such a huge choice of food including grain free pancakes, smoothies etc. With the added benefit of being much cheaper than a Hotel breakfast.

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Chef Chris Zerbe the brains behind this venture was friendly and very helpful, making sure I had a grain free packed lunch for both days that we attended the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. My top tip- is to pack a soft cool bag and ice packs and ask your hotel to freeze them daily. Our hotel was happy to do this ensuring my lunch stayed cold on our journey. Try the sweet potato fries they are delicious any time of the day!

My packed lunch was an amazing grilled chicken grain free wrap with avocado and a side salad of mixed leaves and tomatoes.

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We also took some of Chef Chris’s paleo bars which were delicious and filling. This was the perfect lunch  to have at what was a very ‘gluten filled’ Grand Prix circuit.

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We went with a package with Red Bull as they had the best price package for the 4 days + garage tour and meet and greet with drivers in the Paddock club.

 

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Wedged between our two Abu Dhabi Grand Prix days was Saturday. We booked in advance to eat at Omnia Gourmet a restaurant at the fishing harbour Dubai , glad of the app on our phone we made our way in our hire car to the other end of Dubai a 45min trip. We were shown to an outside table looking out at the harbour.

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I’m sure the view of the harbour looks particularly beautiful in the day. Our waiter was very helpful and immediately offered to bring out the chef. Chef Curtis was from Leeds, England and went through the menu suggesting  how he could make me a meal avoiding all my intolerances . The menu contained a great deal of onion and garlic. Our starters were stunning Chef made me a starter portion of zucchini Linguini  with avocado pesto and cashew nuts it was a stunning starter. My husband was also blown away by his tuna nicoise salad the best he had ever had!

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For my main course Chef Curtis invented a special meal for me of Sea bream with an array of tiny vegetables. Beautifully presented and tasted great.

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I knew desserts were going to be fab from all the instagram pictures I had seen from back in the UK. We agreed we should share three desserts ( well we had come along way! ) Paleo Love a chocolate, cashew and pistachio slice which was dairy and gluten free. Orange and Almond cake which was gluten free and a slice of  Pecan pie. Coffee and tea is also available with dairy free options I choose Coffee with almond milk.

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The desserts were so good we took two gluten free chocolate brownies back to the hotel for our packed lunches the next day.

Omnia Gourmet

Omnia Gourmet

The staff were all very friendly. The head waiter was Daniel who deserves a special mention as does Chef Curtis who went the extra mile to make our meals real show stoppers. More restaurants are in the pipeline including a fine dining restaurant and a burger restaurant. The head Chef Silvena Rowe was not at the restaurant on the night we visited which was a great shame, as I would loved to have met her. Maybe next time!

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I wish these two restaurants were in my local town in the UK I would eat there all the time!

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was something I will never forget and watching Lewis Hamilton win the championship made it extra special. We saw Jenson Button up close as our seats were directly behind position 6 on the grid looking on to the pit wall. We watched as he shock hands with the entire team before the race got underway, which seemed to show that he didn’t expect to be back next year, A great shame!

During our meet and greet with Red Bull we met Christian Horner, Jean Eric Verne and the ever smiley Daniel Ricciardo. We were able to look down on to the pits from the paddock club and watch the Sky team in action on practice day ( Friday )

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For winter sun and delicious gluten free and free from food I can thoroughly recommend Dubai. A beautiful 28c during the day cooling down in the evenings from about 5.30pm .

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Follow Omnia Gourmet on Instagram 

Follow The Cycle Bistro Twitter here

 

Blog post from the archives Gluten free Dining in Dubai January 2014 click here 

 

 

Gluten free dining in Dubai

We flew to Dubai on Emirates an airline I can highly recommend. Flying economy for 6 hours was very comfortable. I  pre ordered a gluten free inflight meal. Because I have additional  food intolerances it makes eating on planes quite tricky. Yeast (wine, vinegar soy sauce etc ) and onions are not things you can avoid with inflight meals, sadly. The likelihood was that there would be very little I could eat.

With this in mind we grabbed breakfast at Rhubarb at terminal 3 Heathrow. A huge plate of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs was just the ticket.

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The 6 hr flight went very fast, helped by a great selection of up to date movies. The gluten free meal offered was simply cooked salmon with a few tiny squares of potato, I was very grateful for this.

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We stayed at the Mina A’Salam part of the Jumeirah resort in Dubai, a grand boutique hotel. The hotel is built in the traditional arabian style with waterways, souk and spa. During our stay we tried a selection of the restaurants in our hotel and the neighbouring hotels only a boat ride, walk or buggy ride away.

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On our first night we had dinner at La Parrilla at Jumeirah beach hotel just a short buggy ride away, along the edge of the beach front. Infront of the hotel is the famous Burj al Arab the sail shaped all suite hotel. A stunning looking structure set on an island just off the beach.

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La Parrilla is an Argentinian restaurant located on the 25th floor of the hotel.

After a cheeky Gin and Tonic we checked out the menu. Steak was an obvious choice, to have it with fries would be amazing but it was unlikely that I would be able to have it in the restaurant due to cross contamination. I passed my new business/intolerance card to the waitress and almost straight away the chef appeared asking how he could help. The argentinian chef went through the entire menu with me and gave me lots of alternatives for dinner. He offered to make me my own chips, fried separately. How could I refuse!

While we waited for our food we enjoyed spanish dancing and live music . For a starter I decided on two small tapas dishes manchego cheese with honey and stuffed peppers with avocado and cheese, both stunning.

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cheese and honey

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Stuffed peppers

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The fillet steak was the best I have ever tasted and it was very nice to have chips as a treat. I ordered a side of spinach and pine nuts which was delicious too. I felt very confident that the chef understood my needs, making the whole experience very enjoyable for Mr S and myself. So often we both end up stressed even before the food arrives. I can highly recommend La Parrilla

Sadly the only option for pudding if you are gluten intolerant or Coeliac is fruit,  I watched Mr S tuck into a delicious looking pudding. It would be good to see a gluten free option added to the menu or possibly a cheese board with celery and fig.

Our first morning in Dubai we were greeted by the bluest sky and turquoise sea from our balcony

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Time to check out the breakfast buffet, fingers crossed!

I wasn’t disappointed, separate stations for each type of food. Bread products right away from fresh fruit etc. Chef on hand to prepare eggs, no flour near by. A huge relief.

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2 egg omelette and smoked salmon with fresh fruit to start.

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You can choose to eat inside or outside looking out towards the sea. Just watch out for the crows that like to fly down when you leave your table unattended.

The safest choice for breakfast is definitely eggs with a choice of salmon , cheese or vegetables.

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Gluten free bread is available on request.

Dinner on the second evening was at Al Hambra in the Al Qasr hotel. What the restaurant lacked in atmosphere it made up for with its friendly helpful staff. Straight away the chef came out to see us and went through the menu ticking suitable choices. I was pleased to know that I could have paella.

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We started with tapas style garlic prawns and Serrano ham, followed by the paella it was a delicious meal and I would certainly return to this restaurant.

A good choice for lunch is Shimmers, a beach front restaurant with plenty of shade leading straight on to the sand. Once again after explaining to the waiter I had food intolerances the chef came straight out and we talked through what I could have.

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I chose Salmon with potato wedges cooked separately for me with a green salad.

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A pretty perfect setting for lunch!

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For our last evening in Dubai, a place which has totally surprised me and exceeded my expectations. We booked to eat dinner at Pierchic an extra special restaurant on a pier serving mainly seafood, dress code is smart elegant.

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A view looking down the pier.

Fortunately it was a still, warm evening  perfect for sitting outside. We took a short walk to the pier where we were seated looking out at Burj al Arab lit up along with many other buildings on the shore line. A full moon adding to the already beautiful view.

We had emailed the restaurant in advance and the chef came out straight away to talk through my intolerances. It turned out chef Rosalind Parsk came from Epsom very close to us in Surrey. She told us she had worked for Gordon Ramsey and Gary Rhodes Grosvenor house Dubai. Chef Rosalind went through the menu with us and I decided to order scallops to start followed by Atlantic cod with mash and green beans.

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There was one small mistake with my main course some pickled caper berries fortunately I spotted them so it wasn’t an issue. I did let the chef know at the end, as she came out to check if we had enjoyed everything.

I chose a cheese board for pudding as there was no option for a sweet dessert except fruit once again.

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Once again someone had added pickle to my cheese board, not to much of an issue but this does show how important it is to have good communication in the kitchens.

I would definitely eat at Pierchic again,  a lovely location for a special meal.

This sadly was only a short break on our way to Thailand, I could happily have stayed longer in Dubai. We visited the Burj al Khalifa, well worth a visit. The Dubai mall and the gold souk.

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Spice souk

Spice souk

Top tip – if you stay half or full board at Mina a’ Salam, you may be given meal vouchers. It is worth checking which restaurants you can use your vouchers for. Some like Pierchic do not accept vouchers for Dinner. Other restaurants accept vouchers for both lunch and dinner. Email ahead to mention food intolerances too. They do take note and are much more prepared when you arrive. If there are restaurants you are keen to try it is worth booking in advance.

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Worth asking for a room facing west over the canals as a new hotel is being built on the other side facing Burj al Arab

Whatever your food intolerance the hotels in the Jumeirah complex should be able to accommodate you. It appeared to me that they had a policy to send the chef out to make sure they can understand and cater for your needs.

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I’m sure we will return to Dubai and this hotel  sometime in the future. Whilst not a cheap option, the fact that we could eat out so easily in a range of restaurants with no worries was worth a great deal.

I would love to hear your experiences of eating out gluten free in Dubai.

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